Learning Exchange Trips & Speaker Series

Engage in a meaningful, experiential learning with members of Batey Libertad community to learn about Dominican-Haitian history and culture, Yspaniola’s educational work and human rights issues.

Virtual Speaker Series

During 1 hour virtual sessions led by Yspaniola staff and community members, reflect on the following themes with your group:

  • Dominican Republic political situation, geography, national history and demographics
  • Discovering Dominican Culture: dance, music and cuisine
  • Introduction to the Batey: An Examination of Migration Between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Yspaniola’s Work and Education in Dominican Republic

Learning Exchange Trips

Spend 7 days (6 nights) discovering the Dominican Republic:

  • Have a cultural immersion experience in Batey Libertad by staying 3 nights with local families
  • Exchange with young people in the community
  • Visit to a human rights-focused nonprofit
  • Reflect on the social issues and challenges faced by community members during journal sessions 
  • Spend a day at the beach and in an eco-reserve in the mountains

Since 2005, Yspaniola has been hosting student trips to Batey Libertad and the Dominican Republic. Guided by experienced Yspaniola staff, undergraduate and high school students tour the country, visit the Haitian-Dominican border, meet with human rights activists, live with host families in Batey Libertad, and support our work through fundraising and service activities. These have included the creation of resources for our Learning Center, mural and library painting, reading hour, and cultural exchanges with community members. Our experiential-learning model is centered on education and solidarity; we aim to show students from different parts of the world that their lives are intricately connected to people seemingly a world away.

Yspaniola supports four to six Service-Learning trips a year, and has worked with many university partners over the years, including trips from Yale University, Brown University, the University of Virginia, the University of Delaware, the University of Rhode Island, St. Johns University, and the Monterrey Institute of Technology and High Education in Mexico. In addition, Yspaniola has hosted a group of high school students from Lincoln Sudbury High School in Massachusetts whose itinerary is similar to the college student groups. Yspaniola has also hosted non-student groups such as a group of doctors, nurses, and community health care workers from Brookside Community Health Center who have visited multiple times to learn more about Dominican health care practices, particularly in the city of Baní. In 2019, Yspaniola hosted our first ever Yale Alumni Service Corps (YASC) trip, with 50 participants!

The abrupt halt to international travel with the onset of COVID-19 had a great impact on the income our trips generated for local host families and our education programs. Eager to reinvent the program to maintain this crucial support, Yspaniola worked with young leaders from the community to develop interactive presentations: our virtual Speaker Series came to life! 

This new format provided an opportunity to strengthen the facilitators’ confidence in public speaking and share their own personal narratives about Dominican culture, history and everyday life. We now offer the Speaker Series as a pre-departure activity to introduce Dominican Republic and Batey Libertad.

We thank the Spanish teachers and students of Clackamas High School, Trinity High School, and Hopkins School for taking part in our very first Speaker Series’.

Yspaniola offers student groups the opportunity to discover the Dominican Republic, and to and gain a deeper understanding of the complex situation of migration between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  We provide  students groups with a tailored pre-departure curriculum that consists of articles, books and videos about Dominican history, Dominican-Haitian relations, international development, and volunteerism. This curriculum allows students to be aware of the historical and cultural significance of the sites they visit on Yspaniola trips, and to better contextualize what life is like in Batey Libertad.

In addition to traveling across the Dominican Republic, students also spend four to five days living with homestay families in Batey Libertad, engaging with local youth, Learning Center students, and community leaders in discussions about community development, race, education, and human rights in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to our learning exchange trips, Yspaniola hosts shorter visits with groups interested in visiting Batey Libertad and learning about the community and Yspaniola’s programs. While shorter (one to two days), these visits include similar engagement with community members and Learning Center students. Yspaniola has hosted many of these visitors, and we would love to host you too!

View and download our Experiential and Service-Learning Trips Brochure here.

If you are interested in leading a trip or getting your university involved, please contact us at info@yspaniola.org.

Many thanks to the universities that have supported and participated in Experiential and Service-Learning trips with Yspaniola, including: